Primer for ed reformers (or, it’s the curriculum, stupid!)

22 Jul

Being a former public school educator and an advocate of homeschooling, this article really caught my eye. I’ve talked repeatedly about school reform and why it doesn’t (and will never) work. This article pinpoints the specifics of why. While many people, justifiably so, wish to continue efforts to reform schools, we must be practical and realistic. What he proposes is not just a band aid or a politically correct patch. Nor will it be easy. But it is simple. I am not sure that I agree with the idea of establishing another bureaucracy to rethink education. If you wish to maintain a government controlled system, clearly something drastic needs to be done.

Basically,

  • Education cannot be subdivided into neat little subjects. That is not how life works.
  • People, children and adults, do not learn in isolation of any kind (physical or intellectual).
  • We learn more by doing, asking questions, observing, practicing, and refining that we do by sitting still and listening.
  • Testing tells us nothing.

I’m not sure that it is worth the effort to radically change the school system. I don’t think the department of education and public schools need to be a part of the American landscape. But it is obvious that the majority of the people wish to have public schools and this type of reform is definitely worth talking about.

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My guest today is Marion Brady, veteran teacher, administrator, curriculum designer and author.

By Marion Brady
Just about everybody who’s ever been to school has a theory about what’s wrong with education. And a good many of them have a theory about what would make what’s wrong right.

The list of those reform theories is long and getting longer: Get back to the basics! Lengthen the school day! Separate the sexes! Require more math and science! Toughen the standards! Add end-of-course exams! Increase the number of Advanced Placement courses! Put mayors in charge! Replace superintendents with retired military officers! Pay kids for good grades! Abolish teacher unions! End tenure! Lengthen the school year! Tie teacher pay to test scores! Adopt vouchers! Open more charter schools! Close colleges of education! Require school uniforms! Force parental cooperation! Give every kid a laptop! Fire the worst 25% of teachers, rank the rest, and publish the ranking in the newspaper! Adopt national standards for every school subject! Partner schools and businesses! Transfer authority from local school boards to the feds! (Just to begin a list.)

Read the full article here:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/guest-bloggers/primer-for-ed-reformers-or-its.html#more

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2 Responses to “Primer for ed reformers (or, it’s the curriculum, stupid!)”

  1. Adrian Dent July 23, 2010 at 10:39 am #

    Education can be divided into individual subjects, they do it all the time. And then complain that there is not enough time to teach all subjects…
    Testing does tell us something. It tells us how well people perform on tests.
    Reading and writing should not be taught as subjects. They are tools and skills to be used in “subjects”. I have had students tell me it doesn’t matter about their spelling in science, because spelling is for “English.”
    The modern school system is not set up for education. It is to preserve the economy. A Higher age for “compulsory” education means a lower level of “unemployment.” Simple.

  2. Kat July 24, 2010 at 6:12 am #

    You are absolutely right. I guess I should have been more clear in stating that testing tells us nothing important about what a person understands on the subject. Ha ha ha. And I don’t know what it is like in Australia, but here in America, if you go back deep enough, the Department of Education is a part of the Department of Labor. So, not only will longer compulsory schooling mean lower unemployment, but also any one who goes through the system is primed to be a good little worker bee.

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